“Breaking the Ice” Resources—Building a Foundation for Student Engagement

September 07, 2015
By Educator Innovator

Just in time for the beginning of the school year, our friends at Facing History and Ourselves have put together a collection of resources highlighting their favorite community-building classroom activities. From breaking down stereotypes to telling powerful stories, these activities go beyond “breaking the ice” and move towards strengthening classroom community.

Break the Ice: 4 Strategies to Strengthen Classroom Community

My go-to strategy is called ‘Circle in a Circle.’ This strategy can be used not only to ‘break the ice,’ but also throughout the year to review ideas, make connections, unpack or extend information, prepare for writing, and more. It gets students up out of their seats and talking. The process is simple enough for students to learn, and can then be varied for effectiveness based on which questions you ask students to discuss.”

Break the Ice: Activity 2 of 4 Favorites for Building Community

I absolutely love this simple yet powerful strategy to help build classroom community by breaking down students’ assumptions and stereotypes about others.

Begin by asking students to jot down three things (or more) about themselves which others in the classroom would’t know about unless they actually shared it with them. Offer some examples to consider such categories as hobbies, talents, personality traits, skills, pass time activities, favorite things to do, experiences, travels or family.”

Break the Ice: Activity 3 of 4 Great Strategies to Build Community

The common experience of watching the film [Listening is an Act of Love] together, perhaps even crying together in response to some of the stories, and sharing our own stories in response goes a long way in building a sense of community. When we discuss it afterwards, I also like to highlight the power of telling stories, the power of listening to a story, and the power of being listened to. If I had my own classroom this year, I’d follow this up by having students use the StoryCorps app to record their own stories or those of their family.”

Break the Ice: 4 Favorite Activities from the LA Staff

One of my favorite go-to activities is ‘Human Bingo.’ It takes a little work on the front end but provides a great platform for a group to learn more about one another in a guided, fun way.

The Goal: Participants move around the room, trying to cross off enough Bingo Squares to earn Bingo. Each square has a question or piece of information (i.e. “I own pets” or “I have traveled outside the country”) and the goal is to find people who match each square.”

Interested in finding out more? Read the full articles at Facing History and Ourselves.